UNISON stewards have been challenging Oxford Health Trusts current approach to staff who are permantly exempt from PMVA due to some kind of physical impairment.  The Trust is currently employing a draconian policy that gives staff just 3 months to find another job or face termination of their contract.  This means that all staff working on one of the mental health wards could at some point find themselves being discarded if they become disabled and unable to complete PMVA training - even if this is as a result of  being injured at work

With the expectation that staff will have to work to 67 and beyond it is vital staff win some kind of protection of employment to avoid being thrown out of work when they are older with no prospect of employment in the same field.  People with decades of service deserve better than this.  It is a disgrace that a Trust that cares for people with disabilities has such a poor attitude to supporting staff who become disabled.

The Trust is arguing that it needs to have everyone on wards able to do PMVA, though staff know that every day non-PMVA trained staff are being employed on wards to cover staff shortages.  Incredibly the Trust is denying it employs anyone not PMVA trained on the wards!  This means that established staff with disabilities are being treated less favourably than casuals, with higher standards of performance expected - even if they are paid less - thois appears to be blatant discimination on the grounds of disability.  Nor does the Trust appear to be able to acknowledge the hazards posed to patients by discarding long standing experienced staff who maintain continuity of care in favour of  here-today-gone-tomorrow casual workers. 

UNISON reps have asked the trust to change the current policy to guarantee staff some kind of employment, including giving retraining in recognition of loyal service.  However the Trust has so far refused to agree even the smallest concession to ensure that no staff member is thrown out of work. 

UNISON is now talking with the Trust Equalities Officer about the discriminatory way the scheme impacts on staff with impairments, arguing that this is a form of disability and age discrimination.  We are arguing the trust could do more in terms of reasonable adjustments, either to accomdate some staff on the wards or create a system of redeployment that guarantees a job.

We are due to meet with the Trust Equalities Officer on Monday 16th May from 12.30 pm until 3 pm at Unipart and would like members who are concerned about this the Trust's approach to staff who become permantly unable to complete the PMVA training to come with us to explain the issue.  Please mail back if you would like to join us.

As you may be aware the Trust has been in negotiations with staffside Unions for a number of years over the issue of car parking permits and charges for both staff and clients. We are writing to you  to make you aware of the outcome of the discussions and the actions that the staffside unions have taken and any future actions.

As a result of the discussions there have been a number of alterations, the main alteration to  the proposal being  to lift the ceiling at which charges start to £20000, whilst welcome, this is not enough to alter staffside beliefs. 

Stewards in OHFT have repeatedly been called on to support members facing capability proceedings as a result of permanent exemption from the Prevention and Management of Violence and Aggression training (soon to be renamed PEACE training).  Permanent exemptions are only issued to staff on the grounds of disability or health problem that exposes them to risk of injury if they do the training.

Trust managers have been notifying exempt staff that they have 3 months to find an alternative job (in an area where PMVA is not used) and if they fail to do so then will find themselves out of  job.

Oxford Health’s Workforce Racial Equality Standards report published on its website paints a revealing picture of racial discrimination and institutional racism in the trust.

The report confirms Unison’s claim, first made in September 2013, that Black staff are over-represented in formal disciplinary procedures - being more than 6 times likely to be entered into formal disciplinary procedures than white staff.  This has increased over the last last year.

The Trust has announced it intends to impose a system of parking permits and charges.  Your stewards main objection to this scheme is the charging of staff for permits and patients and carers for parking.  In other hospitals where charges have been introduced they have escalated to several hundreds of pounds from initially low levels.

Unison, Unite and RCN stewards in Oxfordshire Health NHS Trust have launched a pertition calling for the trust to reconsider the decision to introduce "cook chill" catering system in Oxfordshire's community hospitals.

Patient groups have already raised concern about the impact the reduction in quality in cook chill food will have on patient's nutritional intake.  There is already evidence that patients in areas that have already have cook chill vote with their feet and order in food in preference to the hospital food provided if they can afford it. The use of take away food puts patients at risk of poor nutrition and loss of control over food safety.  The problem is of such significance that the trust has had to bring in a policy whereby nursing staff have the additional work of policing food outlets patients order in from and performing safety checks on the food when it is delivered. 

Poorly nuitritioned patients can take longer to recover potentially raising costs of hospital stays.  Impoverishing staff through unemployment is likely to impact negatively on the well being of staff, as is the increased use of low paid staff in cook chill companies, with associated increased demands on the NHS.  The requirement for nurses to monitor take-away food distracts them from other aspects of care. 

All this raises the spectre of the "cook chill" project being a false economy, driven by the government demand for cuts rather than any joined up thinking about the real costs of healthcare of the population the trust is supposed to be serving.

The petition can be signed online here.  A printed version can be downloaded here.